Getting engaged is an exciting time in a couple’s journey together. Once the guy takes Beyonce’s advice and “puts a ring on it”, it is usually full on wedding planning mode. This season can be so full of joy and yet so much stress at the same time.
I remember when my wife and I got engaged and how happy we both were to know that there was finally light at the end of the tunnel of our dating season. We had fun with the countdown until the big day, picking our bridesmaids/groomsmen, choosing the honeymoon location, and dreaming of what marriage was going to be like.
On the flipside, I also remember there being many stressful moments on the road to the altar. So many options; so many decisions. Where to have the wedding, who to invite and not invite, what centerpieces to go with, etc.? All the hard conversations that came up in premarital counseling and the pressure of sexual temptation before the altar definitely brought some challenges.
But beyond all the wedding planning details are two individuals who love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together. It’s the relationship that came first and that needs to be prioritized and maintained. The wedding is just one day, but it’s the relationship that remains long after the last piece of cake is eaten and last song has faded.
The engagement season is preparation for your future marriage, not just your wedding day. Couples who embrace their engagement and continue to grow their relationship build a firm foundation to build their marriage upon. Here are five ways to maximize your engagement season:
5 Ways To Maximize Your Engagement Season
1. Keep Having Fun Together
Don’t stop “dating” and “pursuing” each other just because the ring is on her finger and the wedding date is set. Keep doing the things that made the two of you fall in love in the first place. Sometimes what can happen is the romantic dates stop and the only time you hang out is to plan the wedding (which is important, but probably not what made you fall in love). You don’t want to resent the very thing that you should be excited about. Communicate in advance if the hangout will be “business” or “relaxation and fun” (or both). Remember to go on dates just to hang and have fun with each other.
2. Get Premarital Counseling
I can’t stress this point enough…get premarital counseling! Statistics reveal that less one-fifth of marriages in America are preceded by some kind of formal marriage preparation. It is dangerous to spend thousands of dollars and hours of planning for one day, and invest no time and resources on the success of your future marriage. Premarital classes have so much to offer and can really help you have realistic expectations going into marriage. Here are some benefits that most classes teach you:
- How to communicate, “fight fair” and talk things out.
- How to have a Christ-centered marriage.
- How to have the “hard conversations” and force you to have them before the altar.
- The importance of having a budget and plan for money.
- Exposes the marriage myths and gives you healthy and realistic expectations.
3. Keep Growing (in all areas)
We are three part beings (spirit, soul, and body). And since a relationship is made up of two individual beings, growth in our relationship can happen in all three of those areas. Our relationship with our significant other should grow during our engagement, not become stagnant. Here are some ways you can grow in each of these areas:
- Spirit: Grow spiritually. Grow your character, ensure your faith and focus is on Jesus first and your future second, read the Bible and study the role of husband/wife, and pray for your future marriage.
- Soul: Grow intellectually. If you can finish up school, that’s great (but not required), read books together, journal and vision cast about your future life together, and sharpen one another.
- Body: Grow physically. Workout, get in shape, and develop good eating habits that you can bring into the marriage (the honeymoon is sometimes good motivation).
4. Fight For Purity
Whether you and your future spouse have crossed sexual boundaries or not, staying pure during your engagement is one of the most beautiful gifts you can give each other. Many couples find that the engagement season can be one of the most tempting seasons. The enemy tries to get you to justify sexual sin by thinking, “It’s ok to mess around, you’re almost married anyways.” From personal experience, saving yourself for your wedding night is so worth it. But even if you have already crossed boundaries, you can still go backwards with God’s help (for more on this,check out our post: Reestablishing Sexual Boundaries After You’ve Gone Too Far). I encourage you to have the “less is more” mentality. If you are living together, have one person move out for the engagement. Avoid taking overnight trips or vacations together with just the two of you (save that for the honeymoon). Be smart about how much alone time you spend together and strive for more public hangouts. God will honor and reward your commitment to purity and totally make it worth your while in marriage.
5. Get a Vision
The Bible says in Proverbs 29:18 that “without vision the people perish”. This applies to your marriage too. Without vision your marriage will perish. So many couples focus so much on the actual wedding day and the honeymoon, but don’t give any thought to life after those events. It has been said that “a man who fails to plan, plans to fail” (Benjamin Franklin). Make intentional time to plan for the future in your marriage. In your engagement season plan such things as where you will live, your work situations, financial goals, what you want your marriage to stand for, etc. Vision will unify your marriage, and God says in His word that where there is unity He commands His blessing (Psalm 133).
So whether you are dating, newly engaged, or getting close to your big day, I pray that some of this advice will bless your future marriage. Remember, your wedding is for one day, but your marriage is for a lifetime. Here’s to maximizing your your engagement season as you prepare for your beautiful marriage.
Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? Amos 3:3 NKJV